Carville's Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice


Product Details

$28.95  $26.92
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.0 X 1.4 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Pam Fessler is an award-winning correspondent with NPR News, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland.


NPR journalist Pam Fessler has put her considerable professional and personal skills to work, unmasking the history and stigma of this ancient disease. That stigma, which lingers despite scientific evidence, dissipates with this book. Fessler's skills as a journalist and humanist shine new light on old terrors, with well-told stories of lives and science.--Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, NPR
Pam Fessler's extraordinary knack for storytelling brings home the shameful history of discrimination and exile of those battling leprosy. At the same time, she lifts up the resilience and humanity of a community largely erased from our history. It's a moving and passionate appeal to our consciences.--E.J. Dionne, author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country
Throughout my professional life, I've traveled to many places and at many times tried to explain Carville to people around the world. Compared to Pam's efforts mine were feeble. This is an excellent story of my hometown.--James Carville, political strategist
By turns heart-wrenching, inspiring, and infuriating, this is a fast-paced and highly readable account of attempts by patients, their families, doctors and American society in general to deal with the worlds' most misunderstood disease. Written with the eye of an experienced journalist and the voice of a novelist, this book tells the story--stranger than fiction--of the patients, nuns, doctors, movie stars, and politicians who have struggled to come to terms with the stigma and discrimination attached to leprosy. The book is painstakingly researched and documented, and unfolds dramatically through the words of the patients and other participants through their letters and personal papers as well as newspaper accounts and interviews.--David Scollard, retired director, National Hansen's Disease Program
Behind barbed wire on a onetime sugar plantation on the Louisiana bayou, generations of Americans who had the bad luck to contract leprosy were forcibly confined by their own government, stripped of their most basic rights, and left to suffer and die. Pam Fessler, by shining a light on their stories--including a surprising family connection of her own--has redeemed them. She has also left us with a sobering reminder of the costs of demonizing disease and provided a must-read for this time of new infectious threats.--Meredith Wadman, M.D., Science magazine reporter and author of The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease
Pam Fessler's powerful book combines fascinating medical history with a deeply moving family story about a disease that has been misunderstood and stigmatized since the Old Testament.--David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father
[A] fine history, by turns heartbreaking and infuriating. . . Fessler paints a clear picture of a class of people who were confined at Carville typically for life, isolated, stripped of their identities [and] their civil rights. . . Vignettes of the patients, some tracked over decades, humanize the story. . . A caustic story told with empathy and a sharp eye for society's intolerance.
Carville's Cure is a powerful story of all the ways that infectious diseases bring out the best and the worst in people: hope and fear, science and faith, humanity and cruelty. It is the very best kind of history: one that is alive with the people whose story it tells, and one that teaches us how to face challenges we will face in the future. It will move you.--Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and White House Ebola response coordinator, 2014-15
NPR correspondent Fessler's polished and compassionate debut examines the history of Hansen's disease (the modern name for leprosy) in America through the story of the Louisiana Leper Home in Carville, La. Fessler profiles several patients (most of whom were sent to Carville by mandatory state reporting laws), including her husband's grandfather, and New Orleans debutante Betty Parker, who fell in love with a fellow patient and ran away with him.... Her well-researched and articulate account humanizes sufferers and caregivers alike, and offers hope in the medical field's ability to halt the spread of contagious illness. Readers will be enlightened and encouraged.